A work in progress

Always looking ahead

Always looking ahead

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

And things are moving forward in many ways right now at Dew Claw. Of course training the dogs is the main focus; and as the miles add up and the team comes together things are looking good.  But there is much more to kennel management then training, and it keeps us busy.

Recently we were very lucky to have Dr Tamara Rose – T. Rose Veterinary Service out to the kennel for our annual fall wellness visit. Continue reading

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Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Or in our case – Make straw while the sun shines -
but you get the picture

Get straw while the sun shines, for tomorrow it may snow.

Get straw while the sun shines, for tomorrow it may snow.

I have said it before, fall is manic. You are excited about the winter ahead, and still working hard to prepare for it. No matter how much you do; there is always more that can be done. And mother nature sets her own time frame for the process, so you better be ready to work with her. Continue reading

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Dog Butts!

My view

My view

Spending a lot of time looking at dog butts these days, and that is a good thing.  It means fall training; bigger teams are getting out for longer runs.

OK recently I talked about our summer activities: free running and leader training. This is how we keep the dogs active and entertained in the off seasons. Then starting September  1st.  we kick it up and begin really conditioning the team for the winter ahead. Of course our off season activities help keep the dogs in good physical condition, and whenever you are running a team you have the opportunity (responsibility even) to be training them. But in a theoretical way I separate the two in my mind. Training is working on the shared communication and expectations that allow the musher and team to work together.  Conditioning is the development of muscles, aerobic capacity, strength, and endurance that enables our dogs to accomplish the goals we have set. So although training and conditioning are parts of the same activity; running dogs, at times we allow ourselves a greater focus on one or the other to help us meet our goals. After a few months with a focus on training fall is the time to focus on conditioning.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”  John Muir

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
John Muir

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What makes a Leader ~

Buckwheat a young male who has started running lead in training.

Buckwheat a young male who has started running lead in training.

“Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”
Vince Lombardi

The leaders play a special role in the team; breaking trail, keeping pace, taking the commands that (when it all works right) allow you to drive a team through various terrains, challenges, and trail choices. So it is not surprising that people often ask us about how we pick and train our leaders. To the first part of that question there is no clear cut easy answer. How do I pick a leader?  Well they kind of tell me… that dog who is always eager to go, the puppy who was always out front when you free ran, there are lots of ways a dog can show us they want to run in front of a team.  So you give them a chance and see how they do.  Small team leader training is the answer to the second part of that question, and it is one of the ways we test out new possible leaders and give them that chance.

Leader training in the feild.

Leader training in the field.

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Free Running Fall Fun~

MK waiting for his turn to run

MK waiting for his turn to run

Fall is fast approaching, and to be perfectly honest: I am OK with that.  Judging by the energy level in the dog yard I am going to have to say the Dew Claw dogs are too. In the summer we wait and run on rainy cool days or in the middle of the night. But our cooler temperatures now mean we can get the dogs out more often. Right now we are focusing on two main activities: free running and command training. Command training is done in a maze of trails and an open field by the cabin, and is specifically for improving communication and shared expectations. *and will be the topic of a future post.

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Good Things are growing at Dew Claw

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
William Blake

In the spring we spend a great deal of time thinking about what went well and what went not so well with the past season. Spring is a time for planning and evaluation, in addition to a kennel wide inventory, gear cleaning and repair. In the fall we leader train and start conditioning, and of course then in the winter we enjoy.  But what about that odd 3 months of Alaskan summer?

In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams

In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams


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